Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tips for Drinking Paris

Notre Dame at night.  Picture by Gloria
Summer 2012

Of the Ten Tips for Drinking Belgium, many of them apply to France.  We spent the vast majority of our time in Paris on this trip, plus a couple of day trips to Versailles, Chateau du Vicomte and Giverny.  On a future trip, I'd organize drinking a bit differently.

1. Hotel refrigerator. Evidently, there's no ice in France. Hotels don't have ice machines and asking for it only yields quizzical looks.  Nor can it be found in a grocery store. One desk clerk suggested I buy a beer at the bar across the street and ask nicely. All of us have been the road warrior drinking in the hotel room with an ice bath in the sink for the evening's brewsdoesn't work here. Didn't try in Belgium, but assume it would be similar.  On this trip, finding an apartment to rent with a kitchen or a hotel with a fridge will be important.

2. Pick a home near a bottle shop or beer bar. Between research and experience, there's not a lot of beer bars with an extensive selection of local or EU brews. More often, it's like Express de Lyon with a small but quality range of taps and bottles. Unlike Belgium, good beer doesn't just appear easily. A hotel or apartment within walking distance of Brewberry or La Cave a Bulles would be real treat to stop for a beer and take one home for the above mentioned fridge. I wasn't able to visit La Cave a Bulles, but Brewberry is in the Latin Quarter, a lively neighborhood that seemed like a good place to end the evening after being a tourist. For this two week stay in Paris, we rented an apartment on the Isle de St. Louis and had croissants for breakfast and quiche for dinner, all from the local bakeries.  Or, we picked up beer and ingredients from the family market on our street to make a homemade dinner with the nieces.  We relished pretending to live in real neighborhood rather than our first ring vanilla suburb of home. Next time, I would like to include an easier beer stop in that fantasy lifestyle.
Eiffel tower and Parisian skyline from Arc de Triomphe.  Picture by Gloria.  

3. Plan ahead in late summer. Most tourism books warn of businesses being closed in late summer because many French go on holiday this time of year. In Paris, Brewberry was closed for most of August (and maybe part of July if I read the sign correctly). The bakery below our apartment closed the day after we arrived and Brewberry only opened on our last night in town. Cecile of Brewberry mentioned that La Cave a Bulles was closed as well, so there goes two of the best options in town for those of us with professions that limit us to summer travel.
Paris Metro.  Picture by Gloria

4. Ride the rails. Paris probably has the fastest, most efficient public transportation system that we've ever used.  If there is ever an argument against urban sprawl, Paris is it.  Except for taking the train to Versailles or the airport, we rarely waited more than four minutes for a subway train take us to our next location, even late at night or farther away from the city center.  When I took our nieces to the airport, the train was re-routed, but there were numerous bilingual attendants that helped us navigate the direction signs.  If the first two recommendations aren't possible, the subway can help facilitate a beer hunter looking for a draft.

5. Ask for a flask of tap water. It works better here than in Belgium for some reason, so it's easier to stay hydrated.

If these work (or don't!), let me know. If I missed a trick, please comment for my next trip.

1 comment:

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